Seek­ing a pleas­ing pair­ing

Match­ing whisky with food fun for din­ner guests

Isis Town and Country - - Life | Easy Eating -

PAIR­ING the right whisky with the right food is sub­jec­tive. Hel­ly­ers Road Dis­tillery’s master dis­tiller Mark Lit­tler says the emerg­ing trend of match­ing food types with whiskies (or vice versa) pro­vides no hard and fast rules. “We all have dif­fer­ent tastes, a dif­fer­ent sense of smell and a dif­fer­ent way of see­ing things, it’s what makes our world in­ter­est­ing and in­volv­ing,” Mark says. Sub­jec­tives aside, he says there needs to be an el­e­ment of struc­ture when de­ter­min­ing which whisky goes best with what dish or food type. “In our case we put the whisky first by us­ing our for­mal tast­ing notes from each va­ri­etal to steer us to­ward food types we be­lieve pair up with a par­tic­u­lar whisky,” he said. “We first went down this path in 2014 at an of­fi­cial launch of our 12 Year Orig­i­nal sin­gle malt. We held a de­gus­ta­tion-style event that paired up dishes with our whiskies and it was enor­mously pop­u­lar with the 60-odd guests who at­tended.” Mark Lit­tler has just re­turned from a three-week trip to Europe where, apart from at­tend­ing Whisky Live Paris, he vis­ited Ger­many, the Czech Repub­lic, Scot­land and Swe­den. “I con­ducted a num­ber of pri­vate master classes ar­ranged by our lo­cal dis­tri­bu­tion agents in th­ese coun­tries and at al­most every one of them I was asked what foods I would rec­om­mend with the whiskies pre­sented. “While most were happy to take my rec­om­men­da­tion as gospel, oth­ers were more in­quis­i­tive and wanted to know suc­cinctly why par­tic­u­lar food and whisky va­ri­eties had been matched up”. Here are sev­eral of Mark’s gen­eral whisky/food pair­ing tips:

Ex­am­ine the tast­ing notes of the whisky. If you can’t find tast­ing notes on the la­belling or pack­ag­ing then go online, or con­tact the dis­tillery to re­quest them. Most dis­til­leries will be happy to oblige.

From the tast­ing notes, iden­tify the el­e­ments that are key to the nose and palate. Words like: smok­i­ness, cit­rus, dried fruit, sour­dough, toasty, tea­cake, dried herbs and vanilla, for in­stance.

List the key words taken from the whisky tast­ing notes and con­sider food types you be­lieve would match up with th­ese el­e­ments of taste and nose.

Once you have iden­ti­fied food types that are in har­mony with the at­tributes of the whisky, se­lect recipes or food for­mats that in­cor­po­rate the food type.

Pre­pare sev­eral en­tree-size dishes and match them with the ap­pro­pri­ate whisky. This process is re­ally in­volv­ing of your guests and a lot of fun.

We put the whisky first by us­ing our for­mal tast­ing notes from each va­ri­etal to steer us to­ward food types we be­lieve pair up with a par­tic­u­lar whisky.

PHOTO: ROB BURNETT

A MAT­TER OF TASTE: Master dis­tiller Mark Lit­tler says match­ing the right whisky to the right food is sub­jec­tive.

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